A New Zealand company says it’s solved one of the biggest safety issues affecting amphibious aircraft operations. Paul Vickers, president of Vickers Aircraft told AVweb the WAVE pusher amphib will not flip if the pilot forgets to raise the landing gear before a water landing. Vickers declined to discuss the flip-proof design in detail for proprietary reasons but said it’s among a host of innovations included in the plane, which he said recently completed flight testing. “The WAVE performed exceptionally well, so well in fact that we believe we may have achieved a world-first, a 100% score, passing all criteria and requiring zero changes,” Vickers said. “Meaning the prototype is perfect and can enter production, first components are underway.”
Vickers said manufacturing of the first three production models of the plane has begun in New Zealand and the initial output will be about 35 aircraft per year. However, he said the plan is to move production to the U.S. to take advantage of the new MOSAIC rules for Light Sport aircraft. He said most of the company investors are from the U.S. and the principal market for the plane will be in North America so it makes sense to build it in the U.S., likely in one of the southern states.
Meanwhile, after 14 years of development, Vickers said his company has created a versatile, relatively fast (120 knots cruise) aircraft that is easy to fly and durable in all environments, including ocean operations. “This is not a toy aircraft,” he said. “It’s a solid workhorse aircraft that’s really tough.” He said it will be offered as a base aircraft with a Rotax 916 IS engine. Extra cost options include folding wings, a reversible prop and electric hull thrusters for enhanced water handling.
Vickers, whose background is in boat manufacturing, said the plane incorporates materials and processes that improve manufacturing efficiency and make the aircraft more durable. For instance, the fuselage is a single piece and includes hinges and other fixtures right out of the mold.